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J&K parties divided over Musharraf's proposal

While some parties want the Govt to seize the opportunity offered by Musharraf, others strongly oppose the it, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Dec 07, 2006 18:36 IST
Arun Joshi

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's fresh set of proposals on Kashmir has triggered off new equations on the political turf on the two sides of the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

Some of the mainstream groups like National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party and a separatist combination of All Parties Hurriyat Conference are completely supportive of the proposals. They want the Centre to respond.

On the other hand, the Bhartiya Janta Party, Panun Kashmir, Syed Ali Shah Geelani's group, United Jehad Council and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front have strongly opposed the proposals, for different reasons though.

"These shifting of the goalposts by the groups can transform the scene altogether," says Tahir Mohi-ud-Din, a veteran political analyst of Jammu and Kashmir and editor of 'Chattan', an Urdu newspaper.

"Now the separatist and mainstream difference in 'black and white' terms doesn't exist. The way Pakistan's foreign office spokesperson has been highlighting the supportive voice to Mushraff’s proposals in Omar Abdullah of National Conference and Mehbooba Mufti of PDP, the difference is lost. Now Pakistan has recognised that pro-India parties were having their support base, and Hurriyat Conference is not everything."

Today what Mirwaiz Umar Farooq of the Hurriyat Conference is saying is as much supportive of Musharraf as the voices of Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

The Hurriyat's line of argument is closer to NC and PDP than that of the other separatist groups. It stands completely on the opposite side of the fence as far as Geelani and other hardline separatist groups are concerned.

"Ours is a principled stand that a new way should be found which meets the aspirations of the people of the state. For us, the realisation of peoples' expectations and aspirations through dialogue is more important than sticking to the lines that have failed to deliver. We must be pragmatic and move ahead," Mirwaiz says.

Professor Noor Mohammad Baba, head of Political Science, Kashmir University, agrees that there is a "polarisation" of this kind in the political turf in Jammu and Kashmir.

"There is polarisation and at places the differences between the separatists and mainstream parties are getting blurred."

Tahir says that this polarisation can "change the political equations in future. In what manner, it remains to be seen," he says.

Panun Kashmir Chairman Ajay Charangoo has called Musharraf's proposals as "a reflection of the typical mindset of Musharraf since 1990s to grab Kashmir this way or the other."

State unit BJP chief Ashok Khajuria questions why the Government of India is not telling Pakistan to "mind its own business". "Kashmir is an integral part of India and President Musharraf has no right to speak about it in the terms that undermines the Indian sovereignty over this state."

JKLF chairman Amanullah Khan in a statement on Thursday said that "Mushrraf’s proposals were an insult to the dignity of the 15 million people of the state."

"We are not dumb driven cattle, whose future can be decided by Musharraf. It is unacceptable," he said.

Similar is the thinking of Geelani, who is ideologically at war with JKLF’s thesis of complete independence for the state from both India and Pakistan. He stands for Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan. He has ridiculed the proposals and described Musharraf a victim of "depression".

But the National Conference and PDP, which are at war with each other on day-to-day basis on the political turf of Kashmir, are urging the Centre to seize the opportunity.

NC President Omar Abdullah says: 'This is a unique opportunity. It should not be allowed to slip away from our hands. Delhi must seize it, and seize it urgently." The kind of flexibility being shown by Mushraraff may not be there for all the time."

PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has told the external affairs minister to "give a serious thought" to fresh proposals of Musharraf for making a beginning for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir problem, simply because the cost of not doing it will be much higher than the cost of doing it."

Email Arun Joshi: a_joshi957@rediffmail.com